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Credible Utility

According to the Guidelines for the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a claim in a patent application can be rejected as not having a “credible utility”.  Frequently discussed examples include claims for perpetual motion machines or claims for medicines that purportedly eradicate all diseases.  As the thinking […]

Millions of US Patents, Follow-Up

Concerning the earliest US issued patents, alert readers David Kline and Alvin Thomas inform us that the actual first US patent was issued in 1790, and that patents were not numbered until 1836, beginning with the Ruggles patent.  A “Table of Annual US Patent Activity since 1790”, published […]

Millions of US Patents

The very first US patent, “LOCOMOTIVE STEAM-ENGINE FOR RAIL AND OTHER ROADS”, Inventor: John Ruggles, was issued on July 13, 1836.  Fast-forward to December 28, 1976, when the 4 millionth US patent was issued, titled “PROCESS FOR RECYCLING ASPHALT-AGGREGATE COMPOSITIONS”, Inventor Robert L Mendenhall.  That’s 4 million US […]

Building Blocks for Inventions

Periodically, a popular sentiment resurfaces that innovation is slowing or is altogether dead.  This assessment of innovation has always been wrong in the past, and will continue to be so in the future.  Here’s why.  What do inventors do?  Inventors look at existing situations, existing problems, and new […]

Surrender of Equivalents

We discussed the Doctrine of Equivalents in a previous blog entry.  When might a patentee not have claim coverage extending to equivalents of elements in a patent claim?  In Festo Corp. v Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co., 535 U.S. 722 (2002), also known colloquially as Festo II, the […]